Living the simpElle life: Sarah

Welcome to the final 2013 post in this mini series – Living the simpElle life – where I talk to someone who has inspired me with their story. 

I heard a great phrase recently – 

“The Universe is made up of stories, not of atoms”

– so that is what I want to share with you, stories, to open up the Universe to us all! 

Each individual we meet embodies what this blog is about. They have dug deep to find motivation, they have sought inspiration and in doing so become inspirational to others. They have been empowered with knowledge to change and that is what their story will do for the rest of us…

Meet: Sarah 

hey sarah 🙂 

I was lucky enough to meet Sarah when teaching Nike Training Club at Clapham Common. It’s funny how little we actually know about some of the people we burpee / squat / side lunge next to; a huge shout out to Sarah for sharing her journey and letting us into what it is that makes her tick…

– {THEN} – 

Elle: What made you decide to start training / running? …What was your plan / goals?

Sarah: Originally I started running while studying for my finals at university, just for stress relief and to give me some time out. Then after uni I stopped for a while… until I broke up with a long term boyfriend which prompted me to run again, to boost me up and get some endorphins. 

I began to take running more seriously, and did timed 5k races (by ParkRun) almost every weekend for a year, attempting to get a better time each race. I also entered a 10k and a 12k race. I was about to do a half-marathon when I had a knee injury. This took me out for a couple of months, and in that time I looked into other ways to exercise. I did thai boxing for about 6 months, then I found circuit training/tabata/ Nike Training Club and it was love at first…burpee.

– {HOW} – 

Elle: What’s your favourite way to work out?

Sarah: I’m a street dancer, so my favourite thing is to be in the dance studio. Overall, I like group exercise, preferably to music, and also enjoy being outdoors! And I cross-train.

sarah’s got some moooooves 😉 

Elle: What’s your typical weekly exercise schedule?

Sarah: Monday night – circuit training, Tuesday night – circuit training, Wednesday night – dance training, Thursday night – yoga, Friday night – relax or dance train, Saturday – have a break!, Sunday – Circuits in the AM then dance traning in the afternoon. I’ll sometimes have a light run for about 10min now and then. In the summer I’d sometimes swim outdoors. And I’m still partial to using punching bags when I can 🙂

Elle: What / who has been your inspiration?

Sarah: I tend to be inspired by the people I’m training with, whether that’s other girls in a circuit training class or other dancers. I like to challenge myself to go the extra mile. The teachers and trainers I work with inspire and push me to push my limits too. If my motivation reserves are running low, I sometimes think of top athletes like Hope Solo or Serena Williams who inspire me to dig deep!


Elle: What was the first big difference in you, that made you feel proud and excited?

Sarah: Two things spring to mind. This might sound a bit shallow (and it’s really not meant to!) but the first time I could feel that I had abs, that was a shock. I think I’d been circuit training for six months, purely for the pleasure and endorphins, and my body had started changing along the way. I never aspired to having tight abs or even thought I had the ‘right body’ for them, so when they started to come through it smashed through some preconceptions I had about myself and what’s possible. 

The other thing was – for such a long time, push ups have been my weakest exercise. I could barely manage 5. In my head I kept telling myself that ‘it’s my worst exercise and I’m just not good at them’. This frustrated me because I’m okay with most other exercises. Earlier this year at a Nike Training Club session we were given a tabata set which was a mix of push ups and high knee runs. I somehow ploughed through the set and by the end of it had done 50 push ups. So I can do them! Again, it challenged my mindset of what I think is possible and what I can actually do. 

Elle: Did you make any changes to your diet once you started training?

Sarah: Not really food-wise, as I was already quite a healthy vegetarian before. The biggest thing I changed was going teetotal. Even though I wasn’t a big drinker, I was beginning to notice that if I had a glass of wine the night before, when I got up to train in the morning it was drastically harder and I wouldn’t enjoy training. I didn’t like the idea that alcohol could really affect my body like that, so decided to stop drinking.

– {NOW} – 

Elle: How do you track your progress?

Sarah: At the end of each year I tend to reflect back on what I’ve done, and how differently I feel compared to the start of the year – to see how I’ve improved. So for this year, I’ve progressed by getting better at push ups, using weights during dynamic circuit sets, I’ve improved my sprint times, and with dancing I’ve been having fantastic feedback from battle judges. I prefer to reflect back to see what’s worked well, rather than use specific trackers or apps. I do, however, have a Nike Fuelband….

Elle: Have your goals changed since you started your journey?

Sarah: I definitely think my goals have changed. At the beginning I was very motivated to be training towards races or events, rather than training out of pure pleasure, or training simply to stay healthy. I think now I train as it makes me happy. I’m aiming to do the Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest race next year, and with dancing there are always battles to train for, but I’m making sure that I turn up to train to make me happy, rather than just to hit a goal.

Elle: How do you keep yourself motivated?

Sarah: I think training with others makes it easier. I look forward to seeing the trainers and classmates. I also know that if I’m not active for more than three days in a row I get really grouchy, and exercise makes me happy, so it’s not hard for me to want to go to class.

Elle: If you could go back and give advice to the “before” you…or any other person contemplating changing their lifestyle…what would you say?! 

Sarah: I’d say that whatever form of exercise or activity you decide to take up, make sure you really enjoy it otherwise it will just be a struggle. You should enjoy doing it so much that you don’t have to ‘force’ yourself to do it. Being active and healthy doesn’t necessarily have to mean hitting the gym or running. 


You could go rock climbing, dance, do martial arts, capoeira, hiking, surf, skiing etc. Find something that inspires you and makes you feel good. I’d also advise to have a healthy attitude towards goals/competitions. Make sure you enjoy the ride, rather than just focusing on the goal. And finally, when it comes to diet, do things incrementally. Cut out one naughty thing at a time, and bring in one healthier alternative at a time. Slow and steady!

…so what d’ya think?! Inspirational?! 

If you’d like to leave Sarah a comment below please do!

…and if you have a story you would like to share just get in touch! {Contact Elle}

Keep living that simpElle life 😉 

Elle 🙂 


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